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Balanced headphones: Very difficult to find budget ones on the internet!

Xulonn

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#1
While following the review and discussion of the E1DA 9038S USB DAC/headphone amp, I began to consider getting into headphones (balanced over-ear) that I could use with either an E1DA or my Topping DX7s.

Resident expert Solderdude laid out the conditions for balanced to be preferred over single-ended 'phones.
When balanced makes sense:
  • You need more voltage swing and only a limited voltage supply is available - as with USB stick-type DAC/Amps
  • When the headphone in question has a crappy single ended cable with a relatively high resistance of a (common for L and R) return wire in relation to the impedance of the headphone.
However, using Google and Amazon to try to find "balanced" over-ear headphones and digital audio players (DAPs) is one of the most frustrating searches I have ever done and I finally gave up. Amazon, other online resellers, and even reviews at places like HeadFi do not clearly note if DAPs and headphones are balanced or single-ended.

Do any of you reading this have balanced headphones and/or digital audio players (DAPs) that you can recommend?
 

Timbo2

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#3
I'm sure you'll get a fair number of replies. That said the easiest solution is to find headphones that have removable or replaceable cables. Most, but not all, of those designs will support aftermarket balanced cables.

At that point you can get one of a number of (frequently China based) companies that can make you a custom cable with the termination and length of your choice. Here you need to be careful because there are plenty of ridiculous priced audiophile cable makers and plain old regular cable makers.

In my case I have balanced cables for my Sennheiser headphones as well as my Shure IEMs which use an MMCX connector. I made the cable for Sennheisers, but paid about $20 for the one for my Shure IEMs.
 

LTig

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#4
[..]Resident expert Solderdude laid out the conditions for balanced to be preferred over single-ended 'phones.

However, using Google and Amazon to try to find "balanced" over-ear headphones and digital audio players (DAPs) is one of the most frustrating searches I have ever done and I finally gave up. Amazon, other online resellers, and even reviews at places like HeadFi do not clearly note if DAPs and headphones are balanced or single-ended.
I'd say that most headphones are balanced internally and it's at the stereo jack where they become unbalanced. This is certainly true for all headphones which have separate cables coming out of each can. In those cases you just need to cut off the jack and solder the cable to an appropriate balanced plug.
 

RayDunzl

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#5
The difference between balanced and unbalanced headphones is in the cable and connector.

4 wire cable - common

4 contact connector - rare

Is your cable 4 wire? Is it replaceable? Can you replace the connector?
 

Xulonn

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#7
It seems that what you guys are telling me is that the industry rarely offers balanced 4-way plugs on headphones. Obviously, with two wires coming from each side, any headphones can be converted to a four-way plug, but a bit of DIY is necessary to cut off the 3-way plug to eliminate the common ground connection, and replace it with a properly wired four-way XLR or 3.5mm plug.

As easy and simple as that is for most of us, non-technical users wouldn't have a clue, and are likely to use a converter cable that feeds the same ground - the common one - to separate ground wires in a 4-conductor cable, thereby creating a 4>3>4 configuration with an unwanted common ground.
 

solderdude

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#8
All headphones that have a split cable and dual entry (so a cable plugging in on each cup) are balanced in nature. They just need aonther cable.
The ones with 1 cord going in the left (or right) cup are usually 3-wire headphones and need modifications.
Some headphones exist with a cable using 4 wires but terminated in TRS jack. Here the return wires come together in the plug.

The common return-wire issue is non existent in high impedance headphones.
Only low impedance headphones with very crappy cables might have some L-R issues where the stereo image is 'artificially widened'.

In the vast majority of headphones with common returnwires (3-wire TRS plug) this is not a real world problem though.
 

Xulonn

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#9
In the vast majority of headphones with common returnwires (3-wire TRS plug) this is not a real world problem though.
LOL - I'm so behind the times with headphones, I did not realize that many come with cables that are not hardwired to the earpieces (or whatever you call them) like with the Monolith headphones below. (Interesting that one Amazon reviewer returned the below model claiming that the plugs were a very loose fit in the jacks.)

Monolith Headphones.jpg


Although I started this thread to cover the subject more generically, I am specifically interested in low impedance, over-ear, closed back headphones that would work with the very low-powered E1DA 9038S as well as my Topping DX7s.
 

Tks

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#11
Would buying a pair of HD58X's and then buying an aftermarket balanced cable be considered "budget" in this case?
 
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